Book Review: This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss

BY: Lisa Florjancic, MA, LSW

​“Grief is a crazy-making, complicated process,” Thomas M. Ellis states in the introduction of his 2006 book, This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss. 


“It is part of life’s critical transitions. Losses include not only endings—dying and death—but also beginnings, which start with grief and mourning.” Ellis, a licensed therapist who specializes in traumatic loss and complicated grief, provides readers with practical ways to deal with grief in a healthy manner throughout his book.

The author begins each chapter with a poem about grief before delving into personal stories of individuals and families who have experienced the death of a loved one. The stories deal with people who have experienced loss through illness, as well as loss through trauma. Each chapter conveys information about the impact of loss on many levels—behavioral, cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual. Ellis discusses misconceptions associated with grief, unrealistic expectations and the healing process. He devotes a chapter to complicated responses to grief and how to find help to cope with those feelings.  

“This Thing Called Grief” is short, easy to read and a good resource for anyone who has experienced a loss through death. The poems, reflections, and resources throughout the book provide an added support to those who are grieving. 

“No one can tell you how or how not to grieve,” Ellis writes. “Allow yourself the time and patience your grief demands.”  

(This book is available at various public libraries serving Northern Ohio and various online book sellers.)

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